Hector Ruiz is an attorney with the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, working to support ICE detainees at the Cibola County Correctional Facility in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ruiz represents transwomen and other asylum seekers who are sent to El Paso, Texas following credible fear interviews in Santa Fe. In November 2018 he travelled to Mexico to accompany transwomen asylum seekers, begin preparing their asylum cases and minimise the time spent in detention.
In December 2018, Hector made a subsequent trip to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. When he presented his passport to US CBP officers at the Bridge of the Americas port of entry to return to the US, he was escorted to secondary inspection for further questioning. He was held there for nearly five hours and forced to unlock his phone and allow plainclothes interrogators to review his WhatsApp conversations, contacts, and photos (including case documents from his clients). They also questioned him about his work with asylum seekers in the US and Mexico, other human rights defenders and organisations he worked with, whether asylum seekers were being ‘coached’ before interviews, and his motivations for his work.